Official White House Portraits of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Presented
Exclusive Interview with Artists on The White House 1600 Sessions Podcast
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Sep 07, 2022 Washington, D.C. —
The White House Historical Association today presented the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, painted by Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung, respectively. The portraits and the artists who painted them were introduced during a White House ceremony hosted by President Joseph Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and attended by President and Mrs. Obama.
The White House Historical Association has acquired and commissioned official portraits of the president and first lady since 1965. As is the custom, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama selected the artists before leaving office. Now that the portraits have been presented to the public, they will hang in the White House and be inducted into the White House Collection.
The Association also assisted in acquiring portraits of presidents and first ladies dating back to Washington, in an effort to add missing portraits to the White House Collection, and retroactively commissioned the official portraits of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
“The White House Historical Association is honored to continue the tradition of funding these portraits,” said Stewart D. McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association. “It's a career achievement for the artists selected for these important commissions, and they are now forever a part of White House history.”
McLaurin is the host of The White House 1600 Sessions and released a new episode today featuring an exclusive conversation with Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung. In the episode, McLaurin and the artists discuss the challenges of this unique historical assignment and their approach to creating the portraits.
Watch the full video of this podcast episode here.
Sprung describes the first sittings she had with Mrs. Obama: "I felt this trust come from her, that you do your thing, I do my thing. I'm going to trust you with your thing. And I think portraiture works better sometimes like that."
McCurdy says the former President “was very present and easy to work with” during their sessions together. McCurdy has a stripped-back style which originates with the taking of photographs. “This is the speech everybody gets when they sit for me – look directly in the lens. Don’t smile or gesture. And just hold into that moment. We’re looking for a more meditative or transcendent moment…[the President] did an excellent job of that.”
To hear the full episode, visit https://www.whitehousehistory.....
The White House 1600 Sessions is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
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About the White House Historical Association
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $100 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.
To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org.